Our Team

Our Team of Dance Instructors


Sunshine's Dance & Cheer Studio has recruited some of the Bay Area's most accomplished and talented dance instructors, each of whom brings their own personal approach to the dance floor. See below who they are:

Samantha Gaskin
Founder/Instructor

 

Originally from Houston, Texas Samantha Gaskin has a joy and passion for all forms of dance. This love for dance has blossomed through her study, choreography, and performance of dance for more than 26 years. She has studied ballet, tap, jazz, and hip hop styles of dance all over the Bay Area. Samantha has been dancing since the age of 5 years old and hasn’t stopped since. During high school Samantha studied dance on a recreational level and had the opportunity to perform as a member of the Willowridge dance team in Missouri City, Texas.

 

While in college Samantha was a member of the cheerleading team and performed in shows collaborating jazz, hip-hop and contemporary for local R&B and hip hop artist. Samantha performed for many years on the competition team at Dance 10 Performing Arts Studio in Alameda, California under the direction of Pam Drake.

In 1999, Samantha made the prestigious Oakland Raiderette Cheerleading team where she performed for 3 seasons under the direction of Karen Kovac. In, her second season as a Raiderette Samantha was selected to perform on a special caberet variety show team for the Raiderettes where she performed at special corporate and charity events. In her final season cheering for the Oakland Raiders, Samantha was selected to represent the team in Bosnia and Kosovo to entertain for the troops overseas.

From 2008-2010 Samantha served as head coach for the San Ramon Valley High School Freshmen cheerleading team. As coach she led her team to first place in several local competitions.

Samantha has 10 years of experience teaching dance and cheerleading to young children at different bay area elementary schools, high schools, recreation centers and dance studios giving her a wide spectrum of experience. Samantha’s passion for dance and her love of children is evident in her teaching style. She both inspires and nurtures all of her students. Samantha’s goal is to provide a fun, exciting, and inspiring atmosphere for her students. She aspires to share her love for dance and allow all of her students to acquire the same love.

Rebekah McKenzie

Substitute Instructor
 

Rebekah began her dance training at Stage One Dance at the age of 4 with ballet/tap. She fell in love quickly with jazz after watching her older sisters in class. At the age of 7 she began competition dance. Since then she has grown with her training in pointe, modern, contemporary, hip hop, and lyrical dance for 16 years. She has earned top awards for solo and group dances at Bay Area competitions. Becka's love for children and passion for dance came together in 2009 when she began teaching for her home studio. She loves inspiring and pushing her students to grow with every class. She is happy to bring her training and experience to Sunshine Dance and Cheer."Dance is the hidden language of the soul." - Martha Graham.

Illora Shields


Tap , Tutu's & Tap Shoes Instructor

 

Starting dance at age two, Illora began performing at S. S. Dance Express, now known as Triple Threat Performing Arts. Throughout her life she has been trained in jazz, tap, lyrical, contemporary, hip-hop, ballet, pointe, and musical theater. Illora was part of her high school dance team at Granada High. There she was given the title of choreographer and assistant captain. Illora also auditioned for an All-American spot at a UDA dance camp. She was one of the few dancers who were chosen to perform in London. Illora performed in the London 2013-2014 New Year's Day parade. Illora is now attending Las Positas College. Here she is part of her schools dance program. She choreographs dances for students and herself to perform at the end of the semester showcases. Illora is also currently a NFL cheerleader with the Oakland Raiderettes. She can not wait to share her performance skills and technique with Sunshine Dance and Cheer.

Gwen Stone

                                                                             Ballet & Jazz Instructor 

Maya Denise Gaskin

                                    Boys Hip Hop Instructor

Maya Denise has been dancing since the age of two, and has technical training in ballet, tap, jazz, hip hop, pom, contemporary, and ballet folklorico. She was apart of the Golden State Warriors Jr Jam Squad, received a scholarship to the American Dance Training Camp 2016, and was also the recipient of NUVO’s Teen Hip Hop StandOut Scholarship to attend the Dancerpalooza intensive. During her two years of dancing with the Jr jam Squad, Maya Denise, performanced with Aloe Blacc and Montell Jordan, she also Participated in the 2015 NBA Championship Parade Celebration and received a championship ring. Her Tap solo placed 1st place overall in the age category at Spotlight Dance competition and Placed 2nd at Bravo Dance competition in small group Hip Hop division Maya Denise Played Claire in Sunshine Dance & Cheer studios rendition of The Nutcracker. She currently is on California High Schools Varsity song team, and performs at all of the varsity football, and basketball games. Maya Denise is an active cadette girl scout and serves as Miss Contra Costa County's Outstanding Teen. Currently attending California High School she hopes to use all the skills that she has learned from working at SDC to receive a scholarship to Spelman College.